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Guardiola takes Barca to new highs

FC Barcelona boss Josep Guardiola was simply “so, so happy” after Andrés Iniesta’s strike deep into added time finally ended the UEFA Champions League challenge of Chelsea in an absorbing semi-final at Stamford Bridge – making the 38-year-old the first coach to lead a team to a European Champion Clubs’ Cup final in his first season in charge since Vicente Del Bosque in 1999/2000.

Josep Guardiola after the game said:

We tried to win the game, use the ball and create chances. We didn’t create so much – I expected Chelsea to come out a little more but they didn’t do that so it was difficult for us. I have a lot of faith in my team, we kept trying and don’t forget we played for 25 minutes with ten men. It’s fair to say Chelsea created chances on the counterattack but they were still a bit conservative because when you have players like [Lionel] Messi, they know we’re a threat. It’s difficult to play Chelsea with eleven men, never mind ten, but we kept trying and we are so, so happy. Chelsea are so good on the counterattack but we showed strength and bravery, hung on and created that chance right at the end. I’m very happy for Andrés, he’s a great player who represents Barcelona in many ways. He gets a lot of criticism for not scoring enough goals but hopefully that will stop from today.

United are the defending champions, an unbelievable team, and have a coach with lots of experience. I expect them to sit back and challenge on the counterattack – that’s what I think, although I have to watch our semi-final with them last season and their recent games. We will attack, I expect a nice game – they have some good players and are a great team, but so are we. We’re going to try to win and maybe we’ll deserve to get the trophy. [Daniel] Alves is suspended and Eric Abidal too, but we played today without [Rafael] Márquez and [Carles] Puyol, and [Yaya] Touré hadn’t played in central defence for ten years but I think he did well. We will have different players in the final, but we will play the same – play the ball, move the ball and try to score goals.

Obviously I’m really pleased with how things have gone this year. I have to be honest and say I didn’t expect so many good results in the first season. My first target is to finish off the league, then try to win the [Spanish] Cup final against [Athletic Club] Bilbao next week and then we can look forward to the final with United. To be in two cup finals means it’s a good season.

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